PERSPECTIVE3-5 min to read

Obesity is a growing problem

As global obesity rates rise, so too is expected spending on obesity-related healthcare.


Weight loss drugs have been the biggest story in the pharmaceutical sector over the past year. These treatments regulate blood sugar, commonly called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists. Ozempic is one of the most well-known brands, with many celebrities admitting to using it, from Elon Musk to Amy Schumer. Two companies at the forefront of developing these treatments are Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. It is estimated that together they make up 90% of the obesity treatment market.

Global obesity rates are steadily rising

Obesity rates globally and across select countries (%)


Source: World Health Organization (WHO). Data as of 2016 (published in 2021).

Of the 537 million diabetics worldwide, just 15% are in good control of their condition. Meanwhile, just 2% of the 764 million with obesity are treated medically.

Both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are highly cash generative businesses, with large and growing research and development budgets, which should cement their market leadership. These innovations are causing a paradigm shift in the way that obesity and its related diseases are treated, with doctors offering more weight-centric treatment plans in the first instance.

Expected obesity-related healthcare spending up to 2050


Source: World Health Organization (WHO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The opportunities stretch beyond glycaemic control and weight loss, with huge patient populations across related diseases all in need of treatments.

Existing global patient populations across potential treatment areas for GLP-1 drugs


Source: Capital Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), World Obesity Federation.

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